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Dover Training Week 7 - Having fun training is the best medicine


Dover Training Week 7 - Having fun training is the best medicine

Emma France

A couple of years ago when we were faced with the reality of not being able to train due to an event in the harbour, we decided that we had a choice - cancel and see it as a negative or adapt and find the positives. We decided to adapt. We could have moved locations and sometimes we do that, on that occasion we decided to start super early and swim from dark to light. It turned out to be one of the most popular sessions that we ran that year, and so the pattern began.

There is always a positive to be found when things don’t go the way you had planned, I personally love to reframe negatives into positives so if you need help with that, just come and chat. If you want to hang on to your negatives though, you might find it a little frustrating!

Royal visitor

How many of you saw the legendary Freda Streeter on Sunday? She arrived after you all started and left before the 6 hours swimmers got out. It was, however, delightful to see her back in her rightful place. If you don’t know who Freda is, you really should google her - she is incredible. She ran Dover Channel Training from 1982 to 2015 - so many of us owe our successful swims to her wise guidance. Much of what we do today is based on the pattern she created. She set the standard.

She is likely to return, if you see her, say hello, sit and chat - you’ll learn a great deal.



I had said that the theme for this weekend would be revealed on the day and that you would have to be ‘patient’. Well you may now realise that it had been a sneaky clue! Our theme was medical. I bet you’ve never been fed cake out of a bedpan before! The first time we ran this theme we found that feeding out of syringes, whilst fun, was also an ingenious way to feed in bumpy water without spilling any feed. I hope you enjoyed it!

With big swims planned for some for next weekend our theme is ‘Tom Hanks films’ (he starred in ‘Big’). There is plenty of scope to play with there.

Well done to Paul Cross who has joined in every theme so far - he was even a patient this weekend when a sore calf muscle made itself known! Let’s not mention the drama of Kevin and his cramp!



Daylight on Saturday

Daylight on Saturday

Swimmers:  51
Water temperature: 14.6C
Air temperature:  11.4C
Conditions: Beautifully calm, cloudy to start and then increasingly sunny (shame we didn’t see a beautiful sunrise)

Swimmers:  67
Water temperature:  14.8C
Air temperature: 17.3C
Conditions:  South westerly breeze causing chop, especially at ferry wall end. Sunny / partly cloudy.

So far we have registered:

  • 81 Solo swimmers

  • 41 Relay swimmers

  • 32 Just for Fun swimmers

  • 66 Aspire swimmers

  • 66 Drop-in swimmers

There are 32 swimmers who have applied and will be approved subject to a successful assessment swim.

If you have already paid and haven’t yet collected your card, please collect from the beach crew on your next visit and attach it to the outside of your swim bag. For those who do assessment swims, you’ll be able to collect your card, once paid, the following weekend


Aliens take over the harbour

Aliens invade

Aliens invade

After the false start of last weekend’s night swim, this weekend we had beautiful conditions. 50 adventurous souls took to the water in the dark.

We learned from last year and ensured that we had red lights on the buoys this time - no confusing buoys for swimmers! Whilst a small circuit for you all during the hours of darkness and lots of giving your numbers in, I hope you enjoyed the experience. I had hoped to have our new buoys out on display - big 1.5m lit up buoys, but DHL managed to lose them. Next time!

You may have initially thought that it’s a great idea to practice a night swim, and it is. Hopefully you took more away from it than that. It’s actually a very realistic way to prepare for the big day. You may well start at silly o’clock. So practicing getting an early night, setting your alarm for a ridiculous time, eating breakfast at the wrong time, putting on suncream in the dark and realising that your bodily functions don’t always trigger at that time of day are all great insights into what may happen on the day.

Well done to everyone who joined in. Except perhaps the local lad who’d been out on the town and decided to join in the fun in his under pants! It seems the cold water had an instant sobering effect, at least that’s what the exclamations and rapid exit of the water would lead you to believe! I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be in the middle of 50 people starting a swim at any time of day!


Stand out swims

Rachel enjoying the beach bar

It’s always very difficult to call out impressive swims as there are just so many public and personal achievements each week. Sometimes, the quiet victories are the most important ones. The battles with the demons, achieving something that you once thought you could not and realising that it was easier than you thought. I also congratulate all those who didn’t achieve what they set out to do, but did still learn a great deal, the learning of which will inevitably make a difference on the big day.

Based on the facts of what is shown on the boards, or conversations I have had, well done to the following (in no particular order):

  • Steve Henigan and Elaine Henderson for joining the 3am swim on Saturday for an hour or two and then going along to the champion of champions event and swimming strong there

  • To all the Dover Channel Training swimmers from this year and previous years who swam in the Champion of Champions event - what a cracking challenge and so well organised by Mark Sheridan. It was also lovely to see so many familiar faces amongst the volunteers.

  • David Williams who came along to see how much he could achieve, thinking it would be something like 2 hours and ended up completing his 6 hour qualifying swim - epic!

  • Jane Fletcher for having a ‘moment’ in training and for Michael Jennings for helping give the confidence to complete the task in hand. Team work is everything.

  • A whole raft of relay swimmers who completed their 2 hour qualifying swims.

  • To Amanda Sharples for beating the demons and taking her previous personal best of 3 hours and turning it into a qualifying swim of 6 hours. Thanks also to Jon Southey for swimming the last 4 hours with her (his longest swim since his solo!)

  • To the 18 swimmers who completed 6 or more hours of swimming, especially to those of you who achieved your 6 hours for the first time.

  • To Louise Marshall for converting a 5 hour swim into a 7 hour swim on Saturday to keep Kevin company as he completed his swim.

  • To Dirk Gewert who has completely normalised long swims

  • To Philip Brice for seeing what he could achieve on Saturday and staying in until 9am.

  • To Jacqueline Kempfer for travelling from Germany to join the night swim and achieving 6 hours followed by a short swim the next day before having to return home.

  • To Kevin Mullarkey and Nicola Naunton for completing 7 & 6 (or 6 & 7). You both looked very strong - physically and mentally.

  • To everyone who said ‘please can I stay in a bit longer?’ That really is a winning mindset.

  • To Nicola Naunton for offering to help a swimmer trying to battle the demons to get her relay qualifier whilst in the middle of her own 7 hour swim. To Jon Southey and Paul James for swimming with the same swimmer. To that relay swimmer, today was not your day and your day will come. Remember to borrow our belief in you until you find your own self belief again.

  • To Connie Gewert for earning her new dry robe with her first Dover dip

This really is a team sport. Many of us have bad days and I love the team spirit of this group - so many of you are quick to jump to the assistance of others. Well done. On those bad days when we want to get out, as beach crew we have a choice. We can help you get out (and sometimes that is the right answer), or we can do all that we can to help you stay in. When staying in is the right answer, I can pretty much guarantee that your mood will be far better if you stay in rather than get out - what seems insurmountable at the time can seem insignificant afterwards, so when we use all the tricks in the book to keep you in the water, it’s all about you and wanting you to be uplifted and successful.


Volunteers - thank you


Thank you to all the people who volunteered this weekend. Whilst there was no one showing on the volunteer rota for the weekend, which did give me a momentary shudder when I started planning. Then I thought about who I knew would be there and I knew that we would have sufficient cover. So thank you.

Thank you to:

  • Saturday: Paul James & Nick Murch. With support from Jon Southey; Richard Brant; Tony Marshall; Connie Gewert; Hayley Brant; Mikey Tees and everyone else who got involved and helped.

  • Sunday: Nick Murch. With support from Paul James, Jon Southey, Tony Marshall, Connie Gewert, Mikey Tees, Rachel Hill, Michael Jennings, Anna Plosjaski, Keith Oiller, Peter Whitehead and everyone else who got involved and helped.

I always love impromptu as when we feed so many swimmers it is far easier with many hands. Life is even easier if we have guaranteed people on the rota. So if you can spare a day, please sign-up here. This year I don’t have a big swim planned. I do have a few relays though, so it’s nice to be able to have a splash occasionally myself. Paul does have a big swim so feel free to encourage him to step away from the busy beach and have a swim.



Swimmers thank yous

An unique victory arch!

An unique victory arch!

Facebook has lit up this weekend with stories of your big achievements and adventures in the dark. What has been really wonderful to read are all the stories of when a swimmer needed a bit of morale support and people helped out. This year is a fantastic group who are brilliant at helping each other. It’s not just in the moment either, you care about each other once you’re out of the water with people asking after people again later on. I know that when a swimmer needs a buddy that I could approach just about anyone and you’d willing help. Such is the power of the group and this year seems to be particularly outstanding as acting as a team.

I appreciate all your thanks to the beach crew as well. Whilst I can’t speak for all the volunteers I can say that I simply love doing what I do. The smiles of achievements is all that I need as motivation - i’m very easy to please. Just keep doing what you’re doing.


Feeding time at the zoo

Feeding frenzy!

Feeding frenzy!

We are still feeding lots of swimmers. Thank you all for making it workable for the beach crew by coming in on time. Please make sure that someone has taken your number and shouted it to the person running the board. It’s a bit like bingo - I’m just waiting for someone to shout ‘house’ or ‘bingo’!

At every feed we will give you your fluids and a treat. If you are thirsty you can always ask for more water. Treats are just that - they are treats. On the big day you really don’t need them. There’s nothing wrong with having a little treat every now and then, but I’d strongly advise against taking solids on every feed. It will slow you down massively.

We had a few questions this weekend about the best way to get solids to the swimmer in the water on the big day. Whilst I don’t tend to have treats, if I do they are generally handed to me, hand to hand. What does really slow down the swim is having to come to the boat twice as you will most likely drift during the feed. If the water is a bit bouncy then a big plastic cup that you can scoop your hand into, tied to string and probably on the same feeding reel as your feed. If you like peaches, a super quick way is to have chopped peaches in your actual feed - it can be glugged down very quickly!

For those of you who fed at 1pm on Sunday (4 hour feed for most of you), you were given electrolytes. It’s a good idea to have an electrolyte feed every 4-6 hours on your crossing. A few of you commented on how nice it tasted.

A couple of reminders:

  • We only feed red hats, though we may give the odd treat here and there to yellow hats.

  • We will assume that you want CNP unless you say otherwise. UCAN is also available on the beach as is water

  • If you have any food intolerances, please let me know when you sign-in. We will always have vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options (albeit slightly more limited in range that those without food intolerances). If we don’t have your treat ready for you at feed times, a gentle reminder will have us happily scurrying back up the beach to get your special something.

  • Purple hats / just for fun subscriptions are purely for recreational swimming. I would anticipate a maximum of 2 hours in this category. If you wish to upgrade your subscription to a more appropriate category I’m happy to help with this.


Big day congratulations

Last week saw the beginning of the tracking season. If you are not already a trackaholic, be warned it can be very addictive. I’d like to say congratulations to:

  • Sallie Cheung and the rest of the ‘Testing the water’ 4 person relay: this was the first successful crossing of the year. Pilot was Stuart Gleeson on Sea Leopard. Time = 16 hrs 11 mins (subject to ratification). They landed in Wissant to a crowd with Fred & Steve live streaming. It’s so wonderful to have a view on the finish of a swim.

  • Rachel Hill for her swim to the Varne lightship and back - impressive swimming by Rachel and piloting by Mike Oram.

We have more swimmers booked onto the next tide which starts next Saturday, so stand by your trackers.

Good luck everyone!!


Looking ahead

Future disrupted sessions:

Saturday 22nd & Sunday 23rd June I will be supporting some long swims on these dates (up to 10 hours). Please note, I do not believe that anyone wanting to do a channel solo needs to do a 10 hour swim. Sometimes it is useful to do a little longer than normal if you are a very slow swimmer. Also it can be useful if you are only able to make one day at the weekend. However, if you have a burning desire to do a long swim, this is a great opportunity. The 10 hours will start at 8am. We will be able to support up to 9 hours from 9am. No need to pre-book.

Saturday 13th July provisional (rescheduled Dover Rowing regatta). On this date I am likely to move training to a different location which will be either Hythe or Ramsgate (depending on the weather forecast). I think it will be good experience to swim in a location where we don’t have the protection of the harbour.

Saturday 4th August (Dover Town Regatta). The swim zone will be suspended. We are likely to do another 3am start, and this will be confirmed nearer the time. On this date there will be no parking available along the seafront.

There will be additional safety measures in place for all swims that involve an element in the dark, so attending the briefing is mandatory for all swimmers. You will be required to wear at least one light (battery operated adventure lights, not chemical ones). If you need them, I sell them on the beach, but please buy them before the swim, selling stuff in the dark on the beach at 2.30am isn’t my idea of fun.


Feeding with CNP - part 2

In this episode we take the CNP we mixed in part one and dilute it 50 / 50 with hot water and feed it to the swimmers in training along with a treat. Of course in training it’s tricky to do fast feeds when there are so many people to feed. On the big day this needs to be as quick as possible, if not quicker. For every second you stop, you’re not actually stationary you are drifting sideways with the tide. You can imagine that if you drift for too long that can impact your ability to land at the shortest point. Missing the shortest point doesn’t just add seconds to your swim time, it can add a few hours. So I would encourage you to practice drinking your feed as quickly as you can.

I hope to create a part 3 at some point, showing feeding from a boat. That will take a little more planning!

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Feel free to chat with us between feeds if you have any questions on this or feeding in general. If you have crew with you on any of the weekends, encourage them to help with the feeds to see what it’s like and they can also watch feeds being made.


Lost property

Is any of this yours?

Is any of this yours?

We seem to be gathering more and more lost property each week. Please can you ensure you take all your belongings with you when you leave the beach - our car is already packed beyond comprehension so it would be helpful not to have to take your stuff with us as well!

Paul Cross is modelling most of the lost property, after this photo was taken I discovered some black adidas trunks, an SIS water bottle and another opaque mixer bottle.


Emma’s corner


Excuses - we’ve heard them all (although Julian did come up with a new one the other week). Maybe you think you don’t use or have excuses and instead you have really good reasons why you don’t complete what you could or know you should. Reasons are really just well phrased excuses. if you think about it, in the Cause = Effect equation, it is much more empowering to be on the cause side of the equation. On the cause side you can control your outcome. If you find yourself on the effect side of the equation a lot you are in a very disempowering place - you are completely at the mercy of things that happen outside of your control. It’s someone else’s fault, something else happened, someone said or did something, work was tough, blah blah blah. If you really step back from it and look at it from a third party perspective, you will realise that you have more control than you’ve been giving yourself credit for. If nothing else you have 100% control over the way you react to situations.

I find the word ‘but’ an interesting one. Put it in a work context, have you ever heard someone say ‘I hear what you’re saying, but……’? That ‘but’ is very powerful. What it’s really saying is ‘I hear what you’re saying and I disagree with you’. A far more empowering statement is ‘I hear what you’re saying AND……’ by saying and instead of but you are agreeing and building on a statement. So bringing that back into a training context, when challenged why it didn’t go as planned a response like ‘I wanted to but blah blah blah’ is just an excuse. First tiny switch is to take the challenge and find an ‘and’. So for example, how about instead of ‘I wanted to do five hours but blah blah blah’ try ‘I wanted to do five hours and although that didn’t happen this time I did learn xxxxx and will do yyyyyy next time, that was a great learning experience’.

Next thing is to learn from training that doesn’t go to plan. All decisions we make are emotional first and we look for facts to back up our emotional decision (that’s why pressure sales work, they know if you walk away to think about it they won’t close the sale). If you still make the same decision having kept going for just a bit longer the emotion will fade and the real facts become clearer. After the event, reflect and ask yourself if your reasons really were real, be honest. If you find that they were excuses learn what you need to learn and move on. You’ll be better armed to deal with it next time. Most importantly, even if you present excuses to others, be honest with yourself.

Circling back to excuses, it seems to me that you can have excuses or results. Those who have results don’t need excuses. Those who have excuses don’t get results. So when you get rid of the excuses all you have left are results. Which option do you choose?


Facebook group

Mentoring scheme

If you haven’t already seen, our facebook group has a mentoring scheme. If you feel that you would like to pick the brains of someone who has been where you are now, feel free to reach out to one of the mentors who have offered their services. If they know the answer to your questions I’m sure they’d be delighted to help. If they don’t, I’m sure they’ll point you in the direction of someone who can.

Crew requests

It’s often at about this time in the season when people realise that their original plans for crew for the big day are perhaps not the right choices. It’s never too late to change your mind. It’s your big day and you have invested a great deal into your preparations.

So if you have just realised that asking your second cousin twice removed or your best friend is not longer the right choice as you have no idea if they will be seasick and they know less about channel swimming than you and certainly don’t know how you swim - then why not ask in the facebook group or on the beach if one of your fellow swimmers would be prepared to help? It’s great experience to crew for another swimmer.

On the big day, you may well have a well structured plan of how the day will go, however your job is simple, it is to swim. Leave everything else to your crew. They may well need to adapt the plan based on what happens on the big day. If they need assistance or are unsure how to react to something that happens (e.g. you are sick), ask the pilot - they will have seen it all before and all they want is your success.


Online applications & membership cards

New style membership cards

New style membership cards

I have a lot of membership cards waiting for collection. If you haven’t yet picked up yours, please see me next time you’re on the beach. Please can you attach your membership cards to the outside of your swim bags. This is part of our safety procedures should we need to identify bags in the even of an emergency, it’s also helpful if we know which is your bag if you need to change goggles or get any medication etc that you might need.

If you haven’t joined us yet and still plan to, the online declaration can be found here.

No declaration, no swim, no exception.


Alison Streeter used to always say that swimming the channel is 80% mental, and 20% everything else. I like Julian’s twist on this ‘it’s 80% mental and 20% in your head’! Your Dover Channel Training subscription covers all your physical training with us in Dover, including all your feeds and the support of the volunteers. The act of training also supports part of the hidden 80% by giving you unique experiences and the opportunity to do things that you may not have previously considered possible.

You may have questions, in fact I suspect you will have plenty at times. There are a number of ways to get additional support. Most swimmers with experience will be happy to chat with you and answer your questions from their perspective. A number of experienced swimmers have also signed up to be mentors via our facebook group mentorship programme. That is also free to use.

If you want more formal support than can be offered in a brief conversation on the beach or via the mentorship programme, please get in touch with me so that we can discuss if I can provide additional assistance outside of what is offered through Dover Channel Training. You can find out a bit more at Emma2France. As well as the qualifications and experience that you’d expect I’d have, I’m also a Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and a Hypnotist. If you have unhelpful self-talk, beliefs that are not real and are limiting your progress or a desire to have more support, please get in touch. We can discuss what would be of benefit for you.



A few photos captured at the weekend.

See you next week!!


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